Writing in today’s Irish Independent, GAA analyst Joe Brolly writes:
…Brand experts refer to what is happening with the GAA as ‘cultural expansionism’. The idea is not for the corporation to simply sponsor some event or other, but for the corporation to become so entwined with the culture that it eventually becomes the culture.
In Ireland, we see the same process happening. Sky, with the support of the hierarchy, have already taken a third of the live games away from the vast majority of what Croke Park calls ‘consumers’.
Sky knows it cannot and will not win over the current adult GAA generations. Last year, in Ireland, when 1.35 million viewers watched the football final on RTE, just over 2,000 watched it on Sky.
Sky’s strategy is smart. Forget the adults, go after the youth. As part of this carefully planned invasion of young hearts and minds, they have systematically bought a stable of elite ‘mentors’, which kills three birds with one stone.
It buys off the elite end of the game, as a result it gets the full support of the entirely capitalist GPA, and finally it plays very well with the younger generation, who see their handsome, smiling heroes branded from head to foot in Sky bolloxology – ‘Sky Believe in better’, ‘Sky SPORTS living for Sport’ and all the rest of it …[More at link below]
Although the GAA hierarchy has sought to portray the deal with Sky as a success and consider the reaction of people in Britain to be ‘a vindication’, the reality is, at best, much more complex – and one might legitimately arrive at entirely the opposite conclusion. After all, what we now know is:
Viewing figures for showcase GAA games in Ireland collapsed; The supposed new service for Irish emigrants in Britain, not only already existed, but did so in a more extensive way; Irish emigrants wishing to watch Gaelic games in Britain must now pay much more than was previously the case; The part of the deal which allowed the broadcast of matches on TV in Australia no longer exists and there is no plan – in any real sense of that word – for internationalisation.